Now known as Ho Chi Minh, the land that once went by the name of Saigon is a city with a unique story to tell. From its early days as a fishing village to the rule of the Khmer Empire, and its time as a French Colony to the days following the Vietnam War—there are many attractions in Ho Chi Minh that tell of its complicated and storied past.
Emerging from the Mekong Delta
Every trip to what many regard as the Paris of the Far East should start with a visit to the Mekong Delta. Although it’s a bit of journey from the city center, it is one well worth taking simply because it is among the unique attractions Ho Chi Minh is known the world over for. Sitting on tiny boat may seem unsettling at first, but trust that all will be okay as you make your way down the river and experience authentic rural life.
One of the stops you will make on the journey is the Cai Be Floating Market. Picture this: tiny boats carrying all sorts of goods—fresh produce, fruits, and sometimes even live animals—crossing each other with utmost precision. It is one of those Ho Chi Minh attractions you need to see and experience to believe. Use the stop at the floating market as an opportunity to replenish yourself before making your way back to the city for more adventures in Saigon.
Remnants of the Past Memorialized
The Vietnam War was an unfortunate chapter in world history, but one that should never be forgotten. Rediscover the past at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, where you will find sensibly curated exhibitions depicting the war that was. The galleries feature photographs and other memorabilia that are eye opening but carefully assembled so as to avoid sensationalizing what happened.
Another noteworthy Ho Chi Minh attraction is the War Remnants Museum, which features considerably more dramatic displays of the war. The depictions of the war featured in this museum are eye opening and very graphic, so be warned.
The Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica is one of the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh for those who are looking for something a bit more relaxed. This structure is one of the most prominent legacies left behind by the French, and the architectural masterpiece boasts of materials all imported from France.
Speaking of architecture, make sure to visit the famed Reunification Palace, a landmark regarded as the site of the fall of Saigon. Much of the structure has been preserved masterfully, in an effort to retain its historical significance. A peek at the different rooms will transport you through the past decades and give you an idea of what it must have been like during one of the most difficult times in the country’s history. It’s this unique experience that makes it one of the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh.
After taking in all the sights, it is only proper to cap the day off at Ben Thanh Market with an ice-cold ca phi sue da, the world-famous iced coffee of Vietnam. Use this as an opportunity to shop for souvenirs and handicrafts as well. Ben Thanh Market is one of the biggest markets in the country, so get ready for some crazy bargain hunting.
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